‘Staying On' - a report published today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission - claims that gender attitudes have not changed since the 196Os. It includes a survey of more than 1,000 young people and represents one of the most comprehensive pictures to date into the education and career aspirations of 14 to 18 year olds.
Despite girls' success at GCSE, three-quarters of women still end up in the five Cs of employment - cleaning, catering, caring, cashiering and clerical. Explanations for this trend include the stereotyping of subject choices at schools. There is some evidence that teachers and others in education may contribute towards this trend,consciously or unconsciously encouraging boys and girls to pursue 'gender-appropriate' subjects.
The report also found that almost half of girls from a working class background have a profound fear of failure that is seriously affecting their chances at school and work. It suggests that the fear of failure could be the result of the overwhelming focus on academic achievement with options such as vocational training and apprenticeships not sufficiently promoted as alternatives.
The report recommends improvements to careers advice, increasing the educational maintenance allowance for pupils from poorer homes in education between 16 and19 to more than the current £30 a week, and improving work experience options.